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Agricultural Policies Impact Obesity Trends

FRIDAY, July 12 (HealthDay News) -- U.S. agricultural subsidies have contributed to the rising obesity rates, according to a review published online July 9 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Caroline Franck, from McGill University in Montreal, and colleagues reviewed agricultural policy, subsidies, and the current American nutritional environment.

The researchers found government-issued agricultural subsidies to be worsening obesity trends in America, with current agricultural policy largely uninformed by public health discourse. Eliminating all subsidies would have a mild impact on the prevalence of obesity; however, a revision of commodity programs could have a demonstrable public health impact on the population, over time. Policy reforms, including indemnity program revisions, and the allocation of increasing amounts of resources to sustainable agriculture, will be important determinants of the future of obesity in America.

"A successful reorganization of the American food environment will require commitment to mutually supportive interventions affecting food availability, price, marketing, and health education, at the local, state, and federal levels of government," the authors write. "A revision of agricultural priorities is in order: public health interventions will remain limited in their impact until they can inform decisions that are made at every level of the American food chain, from growers to consumers."

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